Petr Pavel: NATO to Talk to Russia About ‘Support’ to the Taliban

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Petr Pavel

Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee/Wikipedia Commons

Russia’s alleged aid to the Taliban is on the menu of a NATO-Russia meeting scheduled for Thursday in Brussels, said on Wednesday the chairman of the Military Committee of the Atlantic Alliance, the Czech Petr Pavel.

During a meeting with journalists in Washington, General Pavel said that Afghanistan was “on the agenda” of the planned talks between the ambassadors of the 29 NATO countries and their Russian counterpart, Alexander Grushko.

Asked about rumors that Moscow would be providing weapons to the Taliban, General Pavel said he had “seen no evidence” of sales of this kind. But he referred to reports that Moscow “would provide fuel to companies that would then sell the fuel to the Taliban”.

The subject of Afghanistan will be discussed with the Russian ambassador because NATO and Russia have common interests in the fight against terrorism, he added.

Russia is seeking to stem the advance of jihadists in Afghanistan, fearing the destabilization of the neighboring former Soviet Central Asian republics, which Moscow sees as part of its sphere of influence.

The head of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson had criticized Russia in February for giving “influence and legitimacy” to the Taliban, contrary to NATO plans for the country.

A month later, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, leader of the Atlantic Alliance forces in Europe, told the US Congress that Moscow was “possibly” supplying the Taliban. He did not specify what kind of supply, equipment, weapons, or whatever, that the Taliban would be receiving from Moscow.

In addition, General Pavel said that NATO was trying to set up a meeting of General Scaparrotti with Russian Chief of Staff Valeri Guerassimov. This meeting is expected “by the end of the year (…), we hope,” he said.